CLARKSBURG, Mass. — A special town meeting on Wednesday will determine if the town will continue planning a school district merger with neighboring Stamford, Vt.
The special town meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Clarksburg Elementary School and will include a review of the three possible options, and the recommendation for Option 3 from Public Consulting Group, the merger committee, and school officials.
Option 3 would create one unified school district straddling the Vermont/Massachusetts border and reconfigure the use of the two small-town schools, both of which are currently Grades kindergarten through 8. Stamford School, which also has a preschool, would become an early education center for Grades prekindergarten through 2. Clarksburg would become Grades 3 through 8 to coincide with the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System testing that begins in the third grade.
The other options are to not merge (Option 1) or to keep the schools separate with a shared administration (Option 2). The consulting group and school officials say Option 2 would not provide any significant benefits in costs or academics to either town.
"It brings the two districts together with the same administration but it doesn't address the educational needs of either school and they think it's not really a financial benefit either," Superintendent of School John Franzoni had explained recently to the Board of Selectmen.
Fully merging both schools would increase the numbers in each grade, eliminating the need for combined grades, open up more opportunities for programming, and allow more efficient use of both buildings.
The two communities began down the path toward a groundbreaking merger two years ago. The idea was prompted by Vermont's passage of Act 46, a measure designed to streamline governance and promote shared services between rural districts. Stamford was assigned to the new Southern Valley Unified Union School District with Readsboro and Halifax.
Stamford voted not to join that school union two years ago, preferring to explore a merger with Clarksburg or gaining "isolated" status to go its own way. But school officials believe there is little hope in becoming an isolated school as Vermont's Agency of Education has pushed for consolidations and courts have backed the state's authority.
Vermont has been supportive, so far, of Stamford's decision to look south, matching a grant from Massachusetts that allowed the Interstate Merger Committee to hire Public Consulting Group. Stamford, largely a bedroom community, is strongly connected to North County in culture, employment and education, with the overwhelming majority of its children attending local high schools.
Should voters in Clarksburg decide to continue with the merger, much more work will have to be done before a final vote can take place. There are still legal and academic issues, buildings and maintenance, teacher contracts and pensions, impacts on Northern Berkshire School Union, funding, school choice, and governance to hash out. Plus, it will require acts of two legislatures and Congress.
The merger committee hopes to hire a coordinator with state grant funding to help guide the process further along.
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Berkshires Beat: Food Pantry Returning to Eagle Street Starting Aug. 12
Starting Wednesday, Aug. 12, the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry will return to operating out of its home at 45 Eagle St. in North Adams. At that time, the hours will change to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for those coming directly to the Friendship Center. Intake and food distribution will take place at the front door. Those who cannot physically come to the food pantry or who feel ill, may call 413-664-0123 on Wednesday during hours of operation to set up a delivery. Deliveries will take place between 10 a.m. and noon on Thursday, Aug. 13.
The Food Pantry will operate from the Holden Street side of the St. Elizabeth Parish Center one final Wednesday, Aug. 5, during two sessions, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
The food pantry operation moved to the St. Elizabeth Parish Center at the end of March. This move allowed for food distribution with greater social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Back at 45 Eagle St., safety will remain very important, and staff asks members to continue to help all of us stay safe by maintaining social distance and utilizing face coverings. For more information and for future updates see the Facebook page or the website.
Basketball courts reopen
Basketball courts in the city of Pittsfield have now reopened for limited use in adherence to COVID-19 safety guidelines. Signage with these directives will be posted at parks throughout the city.
In April, city basketball courts were among a list of public spaces that were temporarily closed, as part of the city’s mitigation efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Per the guidelines, the reopening of the courts will allow for practice and drills only. No pick-up games or scrimmages are allowed until further notice. Visitors are reminded to exercise social distancing and limit group size to 25 players or less.
Additionally, facial coverings must be worn when intermittent contact might occur and when participants are not actively engaged in an activity.
Vanessa Harrington and Emma Carpenter have been named valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, of the McCann Technical School graduating class of 2020, announced Principal Justin Kratz. click for more
A tropical storm warning has been issued for Massachusetts and Connecticut as now-Hurricane Isaias was nearing landfall along the Carolinas' coasts. Rain in the region is expected to start during the night on Monday and continue through Wednesday. click for more